With the launch of Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest collection of short stories, “Unaccustomed Earth” her readings all over the country have been sold out. Lahiri, an author in the literary genre, has become so popular that Knopf has reportedly printed 300,000 copies of her latest book, similar to the amount of copies printed for books by popular fiction authors like John Grisham.
Within days of “Unaccustomed Earth” arriving at bookstores, every major publication carried a front page review in their books section. The New York Times Sunday Book Review also published an excerpt from the book.
In a review in The New Republic, “The Assimilation Artist,” Adelle Waldman writes that Lahiri’s books are more about the coastal elite experience than they are about the Indian-American one. “The fiction of Jhumpa Lahiri is a strong indication that the great American melting pot is in tip-top shape. That’s not just because Lahiri, an Indian-American, is extremely popular,” writes Waldman.
Lahiri’s prose has always been a favorite with reviewers. With her first collection of short stories, she set a very high standard for herself–winning the Pulitzer Prize. And with each book she writes her prose only get finer, sharper and clearer, making her one of the most admired writers in the literary genre. It’s no wonder she is compared to Chekov and Hemingway.
As she reads to an enraptured audience, a well-dressed and stylish Lahiri’s voice carries loud and clear, and the listeners are obviously moved by her reading.
Lahiri is also a very good spoken word performer, has a striking personality, and her fans are very loyal. Her books are considered trendy and are the in-thing to be seen with, making one appear erudite and a la mode at the same time.
Does this classify her as a celebrity? Could this be why she is media shy, because every one wants to talk to this star?
I’d say, yes, American pop culture has another icon.
–written by Visi Tilak, an award winning writer who lives in Ashland, MA